Early this morning a group of local residents held a demonstration against the council’s bus lane plans set for the A666 Bolton Road in Swinton.
The protest was held between Agecroft fire station and the Irlams o’ th’ Height roundabout, starting at 7:30am and ending just after 9am. A group of local residents set cones in place on a section of the road where the new bus lane will be.
The aim was to show the effects it would have on busy rush-hour traffic and the difficulty that many heavy goods vehicles would have in passing with added cyclists who also use the road to commute.
Despite being held during morning rush hour, the group received a positive response from many passers by in vehicles and on foot as they ‘beeped’ their horns and joined in on the conversation. The group of demonstrators also noted that ‘only three buses’ which ‘were not full’ passed by during that time.
The bus lane has been approved as part of the SBNI (Salford Bolton Network Improvements) scheme and works are due to start in February 2020.
The group feel that there was a ‘lack of public consultation’ over the plans with Paul Brighouse saying: “Local councillors won’t reply to our emails…that’s democracy in Salford for you!”
He added: “We all went to a meeting earlier this year to oppose the bus lane proposals, to be told that it’s not a proposal, the bus lane was decided a few years ago and it’s happening whether we like it or not.”
Mr. Brighouse has a Facebook group: ‘Stop The A666 Bus Lane Madness’ with around 400 followers and many locals who also oppose the bus lane plans.
Anne Brighouse who also lives along the stretch is worried that a narrowing of the pavement to widen the road would mean: “The traffic will be closer to the children on our side of the road going towards Bolton.”
Another resident, Molly Frattasi, said that a bus lane in place here would mean residents having to park their cars on nearby roads which would: “cause a back-log of traffic from all of us trying to park our cars.”
Demonstrator, Janice Pattison expressed her concerns for the possible effects on local health saying: “It’s gonna cause even more congestion and pollution.
“You’ve got children’s schools close by, we already have terrible chest health in Salford and I am worried that it will impact severely on that.”
City Mayor Paul Dennett has provided a statement on the plans: “The scope of the programme was informed by an optioning exercise undertaken by TfGM (Traffic for Greater Manchester), Bolton Council and Salford City Council…
“This exercise resulted in the identification of close to 70 potential local transport interventions…which were subsequently refined based on anticipation benefits, deliverability, construction costs and the priorities of Bolton Council and Salford City Council.”
“Occupancy counts undertaken in September 2018 have identified that these services are well-used with an average of approximately 300 bus passengers using these services in the morning peak hour.”
Salford Cllr Derek Antrobus has previously commented on the bus lane plans that: “It is part of the solution that buses can run as far as possible without delay.” And “It’s about improving reliability of bus services.”